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Just about everyone regarded Manson and his “family” as ragged hippie psycho devils — total outliers. But Waters was fascinated by them to the point of identifying with them. And if that sounds like his own special, warped brand of cultivated taboo-smashing, it also enabled him to see that the Manson family, disturbed as they were, symbolized something new in the culture: a shredding of empathy so extreme that their very existence, refracted through the media, whispered something about all of us.Manson and his followers had revealed that the dark side of ultimate freedom (which was the dream of the ’60s) was ultimate violence.
To choose an obvious example that cuts to the new national spirit: Has there ever been a presidential campaign as angry as this one? In the Internet age, life has become a turf war, with every POV and lifestyle choice, every faction asserting itself with a my-way-or-the-highway righteousness and bellicosity.
It’s been defined by a candidate who spews hate — at his opponent, at the media, at the Muslim parents of a slain soldier — and who only seems to get stronger the more hate he expresses. (It’s not just Donald Trump who hates, either; it’s any number of the people who want to vote for him.) The right wing hardly has a monopoly on this stuff. We’re mad as hell, and none of us are going to take it anymore.
A lot of the Bernie bros, too, are full of rage (“Lock her up! But when, exactly, did America turn into Hater Nation?
“Multiple Maniacs” is a demented comic opera of rage that looks forward, as few films of the time did, to the over-the-top hate culture we have today.
It’s an amazing movie, funny and scandalous and terrifying, and it has now been dug up from the underground.